The Truth About Cars » restoration http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 18:32:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » restoration http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Piston Slap: Getting Smart about Barn Finds! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/piston-slap-getting-smart-about-barn-finds/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/piston-slap-getting-smart-about-barn-finds/#comments Mon, 25 Nov 2013 13:23:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=662162

Justin writes:

Sajeev,

As a classic car lover for the past few years, I’m always scouring Craigslist for 60′s cars and watching YouTube videos on automotive archaeology. It’s a lifetime dream to fix something special and drive it everyday. This being said, you can guess my reaction to hear that there is an abandoned yet 100% complete Sunbeam Tiger on one of my relative’s property in some shed.

Without boring you, the story goes that the old man that owned it payed storage “rent” to my relative to stow it away for his son or nephew (my family owns a few garages and houses on the same street). He eventually passed and the son/nephew refused to pay for the storage. There it sits, 3 to 4 years since he refused to pay up and disappeared.

I cant stop thinking about it.

What would you do? I want that damn car but nobody thinks its worth hiring a lawyer over the title. I’m also fairly certain my relatives will probably want more than I can offer for it, even if they eventually get the title somehow. I’ve tried to do some research on getting a title for it but it doesn’t seem to apply to this situation.

It’s strange how things work, mostly frustrating but still strange. I needed to share this with someone else before I explode.

Sajeev answers:

If you have the spare time–which you shall if you restore a Tiger–you can certainly research how a Lien Sale in your state works. When I had trouble getting my UK-spec Ford Sierra legal at my local Texas DMV, the manager came out to help. She was very helpful, to the point that information overload made me give up and secure a title company’s assistance…but my point about working without a lawyer still stands!

I wouldn’t be surprised if someone in our Best and Brightest applied for a mechanic’s lien, too. Probably a similar process.

Once you do the homework, you’re ready to get the Tiger titled. So what’s up with your family not hooking you up with an antique car they seemingly care less about? If you do the homework, perhaps you’ll be rewarded with that damn heap for cheap. If not, perhaps one party is being unreasonable and you should walk away. Hopefully not, but it wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened in a family…especially as the holidays roll around.

No matter, good luck in your Lien Sale. Hope it won’t drive you insane and the Tiger won’t drive you to the poor house.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: One of “Those People…” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/piston-slap-one-of-those-people/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/piston-slap-one-of-those-people/#comments Wed, 17 Apr 2013 10:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=485139 TTAC Commentator MNM4EVER writes:

A mechanic friend of mine has a 1993 LX 5.0 w/AOD in slightly rough condition he is looking to get rid of. I can pick it up now, complete but not running, for $1800. If I do not buy it, he plans to get it running but otherwise not fix it up and sell it for $3k or so.

My goal for my potential Mustang is to resto-mod it… 4.6L Cobra motor, track suspension, Cobra disc brakes all around, restore the interior but replace the seats, maybe even swap in a later 94-2004 dash, etc. Since I am looking to replace much of the major components of the car, a rough project car is a definite option for me.

But this rough car needs a lot of other things replaced too… all of the exterior moldings are weathered and degrading thanks to sitting in the Florida sun, the interior is trashed all around, paint is very bad, the body has dings and cracked plastic bumpers, surface rust has set in on many places and a little rust appears on the hatch edges, etc. I am guessing I would need to strip it completely and spend around $2k on bodywork to get it fixed, but then it would be showroom new. But the idea of replacing all those moldings and interior parts scares me… sh!t adds up fast.

So my long drawn out question: Is this a good buy at $1800? Or should I keep looking for a closer to mint Mustang for $5-7k that only needs minor restoration and mechanical upgrades as I see fit?

Sajeev answers:

So basically NOTHING on this Fox Mustang is up to your standards.  Honestly, it’s a horrible example of Fox-aliciousness for anyone at $1800. Even if it had a T-5 (stick), this is a $1000 Fox as it sits…on a good day. $1800 if it was complete and fully assembled? Somewhat likely.

You are one of “those people” that demands a nice car and will pay big money to make it right. For you people (what do you mean YOU people?) there’s no substitute for buying the cleanest, most pristine example you can afford. $5000 or more for a clean Fox Mustang isn’t unreasonable, and that’s right for you.

Once more: buy the cleanest, most pristine example you can afford.

And when you do, you better not put the later model dash in there…that’s just wrong for the rest of the body and a complete waste of a nice car.

MNM4EVER writes:

Well, since I consider you the expert on Fox bodies (too bad 5.0 Mustangs are lamesauce and Fox Lincolns/Cougars/Granadas/etc. rule – SM) , I figured there was no one better to help with my decision. I have been considering picking up a 90-93 Mustang hatch, preferably an LX 5.0 with a stick. I don’t want a convertible, I don’t like the GT look, and I don’t want a notchback. I remember back in the day the notch was considered super rare and therefore more desirable, but today it seems like they are everywhere. I know they are lighter, I don’t care, I like the hatchback look.

This will be a long term project/driver, and will definitely get upgraded suspension and brakes, wheels, seats, and I want 300-350hp. The dilemma is that nice LX 5.0 hatches are hard to find, especially in the condition I want it. I want a nice clean interior, I don’t want a beat on drag car or a rusted banged up body, in the end I want this car to be better than new and bodywork is very expensive. I can do most mechanical and all interior work myself, but I can’t paint or fix rust and dents. Down here in Florida it seems to be easier to find mint condition 4-cyl Mustangs, many owned by elderly people with low miles, and definitely never beat on. And since they are not V8s, they are CHEAP, much less than the V8s I see for sale.

So how hard is it to do an engine and trans swap into a 4-cyl Fox body and build it up the way I want it, compared to starting with a 5.0 platform? I don’t know how many differences there are in the chassis between them. I know even 5.0 cars need chassis bracing, I am going to change out the suspension and brakes anyway, etc. And no, I don’t want to turbo the 4-cyl, I want a V8 this time. To compare, I found a pretty nice all original LX 5.0 hatch with an auto and 68k miles for $7k, but I also found a just as nice, newer 4cyl LX hatch with 48k miles for $3k.

Any advice would be appreciated!

Sajeev concludes:

When it comes to Fox bodies, always remember the first rule of modification: chassis bracing uber alles. That means subframe connectors (get the ones that bolt to the seat bottoms, weld to the subframes) a G-load brace for the front subframe and a 3-point strut tower brace.  Not much extra weight, and it changes the car for the better. You will notice the difference behind the wheel in a matter of FEET, not miles.

If you only want less than 400hp (at the wheels), stick with the stock small block Ford (SBF) and upgrade the heads/cam/intake to make that up. For a street car, I’d recommend a power adder (Whipplecharger) and the appropriate camshaft to make it sing. And apparently Mr. John Kasse is finally making a set of heads that will put the 5.0 V8 a little closer to your garden variety LSX motor.** If you buy your parts wisely, the SBF will be a good fit for your needs and not be a huge money pit. If you plan on paying someone for the motor work, save yourself the expense of a non-SBF motor swap and build a good SBF that will drop right in with zero drama.

Now about the 4-cyl to 5.0 swap: it’s a huge pain in the butt because the wiring harness must be changed (alternator, interior stuff, etc.). Not fun. But if you have the two Mustangs side-by-side and a long weekend ahead of you, you can do it.  And be miserable…in the short term.

Good luck in your hunt.  But take heed to my parting shot, son:

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

**Obviously the all-aluminum LSX-FTW swap is the ideal answer, but sometimes its cheaper (parts and labor) to accomplish almost the same thing with the factory correct engine block.  I am always torn between a 5.0 or an LS in a Fox Body, in cases where less than 400 horses is needed on a reasonable budget. The stock SBF is still a good motor in certain applications, and I am pretty sure this is one of those cases. This ain’t no wheezy four-banger or a gutless V6. And the SBF sounds better than any LSX, so there’s that.

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Piston Slap: Rejuvenate or Deep Six the A6? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/piston-slap-rejuvenate-or-deep-six-the-a6/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/piston-slap-rejuvenate-or-deep-six-the-a6/#comments Mon, 24 Dec 2012 12:52:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=471463

Vincent asks:

Hi Sajeev,

I own a 2000 Audi A6 2.7T that I bought 3 years ago. It has been a surprisingly good vehicle to me – comfortable and fast. I even track it on occasion with no complaints. It’s been fairly reliable; the most major issues were having the ABS controller rebuilt and replacing the valve cover gaskets myself, which were not a big deal. As long as nothing catastrophic happens, I plan to keep the car for many more years.

Of course compared to a newer car, I expect this aged A6 to be a bit loose, a little less accurate, a bit more noise, etc. However I recently rode in someone’s 1999 A6 and it feels much, much tighter than my car. My understanding is that there haven’t been any non-stock mods on that car, just lots of dealer service (yikes).

That got me thinking:

1) What maintenance/parts are needed to make a used car feel as much ”like new” as possible, in terms of ride and performance? And what are the best bang for the buck projects? (e.g. I don’t care about having the new car shine and smell)

2) When does it make sense to throw in the towel, and buy a newer (used) car?

Thanks!
Vincent

Sajeev Answers:

I complain that many newer cars aren’t as tight as my Fox Body Cougar (fresh suspension with KONIs, new steering rack and shaft with needle bearings, weld in sub-frame connectors that also bolt to the seat bottoms, strut tower brace, boxed rear control arms, Dynamat, etc). Which might be why I haven’t done a new car review in a loooooong time: but then again, Imuch like Mitt Romneyhave binders full of service/parts receipts proving this Cougar knows that Performance is an Eight Cylinder Word. RAWR!!!

 

When someone says their car feels old/loose, knowing the mileage and recent service history is important. Especially since an Audi from this generation is the epitome of a modern hooptie. Well, a beautiful hooptie at least.

So let’s assume yours isn’t a garage queen with low miles. Perhaps you drive it on less than perfectly smooth roads.  And that you’ve never shown your car to a dealer, or any mechanic super concerned with fully reconditioning an older ride.  So you probably have a steering system with too much play, perished shocks, slightly saggy springs, loose ball joints, toasted control arms, bashed up bushings, etc.

Basically you need a rebuild of all worn bits in your suspension…and probably new steering bits too. New tires too? Only a mechanic who cares enough to do the right thing knows the real deal. Which means you gotta fork over lotsa $$$, honey!

Which leads me to question #2: run the hell away from this car. You will regret the moment you put a wrench on the underside, things will start setting your wallet on fire, so to speak. The once-tight A6s are somewhat fragile (compared to a boring, numb, loose mainstream sedan made to handle years of abuse) because of their complex design. And every part is too expensive considering the current (and forseeable future) value.

Unless, of course, this A6 is to you what the Cougar is to me. And then, by all means, do the right thing and empty out your wallet.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Piston Slap: Hard Body, Easy Decision? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/piston-slap-an-unsung-heros-hard-body/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/piston-slap-an-unsung-heros-hard-body/#comments Wed, 31 Oct 2012 11:42:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=465133

Robin writes:

Thanks so much for the data on fuel additives. I did later determine that it also can be a salve for ethanol-afflicted soft bits in the fuel lines. Here’s the deal though. My little 1994 Nissan Hardbody is a delightful little vehicle.

It now has over 181,000 on the clock. I just returned from a trip to San Antonio. Drove there from McKinney and back. I logged MPG and came up with just at/under 23 MPG. Before I had always been turning 25/26 MPG on road trips.

With low 180,000 miles I fully realize that things are starting to wear. I want to keep investing in this little truck as it is still worth more to me than I could hope to sell it for. I need to know the usual suspects, the places to start looking to upgrade or repair in order to restore mileage. I wish I could take it to my mechanic and tell them “fix it” but I ain’t got that kind of bank account.

Sajeev answers:

The dirty little secret about honest compact trucks? They are more valuable to more people than a comparable car, especially in rural areas/flyover states. Small trucks do so much for so little, they are the most loyal soldiers in our automotive landscape. And that’s why I love ‘em, enough to join the ranks with one of the last Ford Rangers ever made.

So I do indeed see where you’re coming from. The point?

Fix everything to your heart’s content…well, within reason. Here’s a list of common wear items at this age that you should invest to make the ownership more appealing to you and a future buyer. You mentioned mileage specifically, but I want to go further.

  1. Anything made of rubber: Belts, Hoses, Tires, Vacuum Lines, O-Rings, Suspension Bushings, Weatherstripping.
  2. Shocks and Springs: both are fatigued at this age, especially the shocks. Buy the highest quality shock you can afford.
  3. Tune up items: spark plugs, PCV, all filters (don’t forget fuel!), spark plug wires, oxygen sensors, etc.
  4. Speakers: they weren’t great when new and after years of sun exposure, consider getting new ones (the cheap ones) to enjoy your stereo again. Yes, this is important, especially in a truck with less-than-thrilling comfort for long trips.
  5. HVAC, clean out debris from the blower motor and evaporator behind the dash.
  6. Actually, clean just about everything under the hood too, just not with a steam cleaner. Look for leaks after driving with a clean engine.  Fix the leaks.
  7. Tint windows, helps the A/C with its mission.
  8. Polish and Wax the paint, for looks and slipperiness at highway speeds. Also consider a tonneau cover to improve aerodynamics and functionality: I attribute my better than average mileage to the cover on my Ranger.
  9. Fluids: flush the brakes, slave cylinder, power steering, and maybe even the differential’s stuff.  These aren’t considered by most people, but they are important. Flushing an automatic transmission at this age (if the fluid hasn’t been changed) is too hit or miss for me to recommend, but go ahead and do it for a manual.
  10. Headlights!  They fade out so slowly that yours are probably gone even if you don’t think so. I’ve seen some drivers need new bulbs after 2-3 years of use. They still worked…except they really didn’t.

And on your Hardbody, get a factory shop manual and just tear into it. Join a forum and get reading. This isn’t a Turbo SAAB, you got nothing to fear.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

 

 

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Piston Slap: The Minima-Maxima and The Circle of Life http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/piston-slap-the-minima-maxima-and-the-circle-of-life/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/piston-slap-the-minima-maxima-and-the-circle-of-life/#comments Thu, 09 Jun 2011 14:41:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=396659

Fred B. writes:

Sajeev,

You recent article about racks prompted me to write.  I am the proud owner of a 1996 Nissan Maxima.  I’ve had it since about 30k miles.  Over the course of its 209k mile life it has garnered additional accouterments along with its original generous kit.  Specifically, the paint has gracelessly aged in the Texas sun to a rosy multi-hued patina that varies from nearly bare steel on some of the flat parts to the original red on the sheltered parts.  The car hasn’t lived in Texas all of its life.  Its formative years were spent in Indiana, where the salt festooned winter streets customized the underside.  In fact, it used to make such a racket that I removed the heat shields from the exhaust system.

The interior has also received the gentle blessings of years of use.  The leather rear headrests are cracked, and just recently the driver’s side seat has ripped.  The ebrake boot is shredded, although that is more a function of a poor design, every model of this vintage I have ever seen has a shredded boot.  Otherwise, this car seems to have been built out of lifetime parts.  (I did swap out the stereo, another problem with these models, and I simply stopped changing oxygen sensors after I spent my thousandth dollar doing so.  That was more than ten years ago.  Otherwise, original transmission, engine, pretty much everything.  New belts and other consumables at 100k, regular synthetic oil, probably need to replace the transmission fluid.)

To the point, I no longer take the car out of town.  I pretty much drive it back and forth to work and take two of my children several days a week for a low speed commute and to soccer practice in a medium sized town.  The steering rack is leaking fluid.  It has been leaking fluid for two years.  I top it off every once in a while, and it doesn’t give me a problem.  However, the fluid is apparently dripping onto the front control arm bushings, causing them to deteriorate.  My mechanic says that they will eventually go, but that watchful waiting is ok, and that it is not worth replacing just the bushings because I would have to replace the entire arms and the new bushings would simply be destroyed by the leaking rack.

He is quoting me $1500 for the rack and $700 for the control arm job.  Here’s my question: At what point do I give up on this sun-mellowed beast?  I don’t think it is worth north of $2k for the repairs.  It is still pretty sprightly, comfortable to drive and gets me around.  I can afford another car, but I need five seats and the nothing about the possibilities (other than last chance at a Panther) leap out at me (I am half waiting for the G8 GTs or the 2010 Maximas fall below $20k, but that is at least a year away in my estimation.).  We have a minivan for trips and schlepping the whole family around.  I thought that something like the transmission would give out and make my decision (relatively) easy.  I doubt that the bushings couldn’t just be replaced, but I am not sure how much risk I am taking by simply waiting for them to fail.  If the transmission or engine isn’t going to fail, it means that the car will fail when the bushings go, and I’m not sure I want to be there when that happens.

So, what are your thoughts on doing something with the front end like what you did on your Lincoln vs. just waiting for it to fail?  Also, I haven’t shopped the front end job, but do those prices seem ballpark reasonable?

Sajeev answers:

Since you mentioned it, I don’t hesitate to fix (just about) anything on my rust free, 170,000 mile Mark VIII.  The black leather interior is original, smells kinda luxurious and still gets compliments from random people. With modifications to its air sprung chassis and 330hp on tap, it drives better than most new cars. If I keep my wits about me, I can hyper-mile it to 32 MPG, even on E10 gas.  And I drive it anywhere I want, usually with a grin on my face. Mess with a good thing?

No way. I don’t want another daily driver, much less the associated monthly payment of a newer luxury coupe of this caliber. It’s worth every penny for a Mark VIII in this condition, with an owner so motivated to make it happen. But I am the exception, not the rule. I don’t expect anyone to be even remotely like me.

And for your ride, I’m not feelin’ it. There’s not enough Maxima love in your letter, and this Nissan needs a lot of work. Suspension work is expensive, but worth it.  Interior stuff for cars with no aftermarket restoration support is fiddly and pricey, you’d need a clean parts car (or some luck and a 50% off sale at a junkyard) to do this in a reasonable budget. So this is a car you run into the ground, sell it to the junkyard and start all over again. That is, after all, the circle of automotive life.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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